I just finished unpacking after spending a few days with my grandparents for Thanksgiving. Every time I'm with them, I find myself always having a great time and, honestly, I never want to leave. But there are of course things I love about being back home, and I'm glad we came home today so that we still get a weekend before school and routines set back in.
An ongoing battle I've had is with my expectations and, to be even more specific, my impatience with God's timing. I have high expectations about a lot of things: how my prayers should be answered (how I want my prayers to be answered and when), how people should act, how I should be, and of course, high expectations with my dreams and where I should be right now.
So when Tuesday came around, I was more than ready to be done with school and leave that night. It was cold enough to wear boots, leggings, and sweaters--my go-to winter look--so I was pretty happy about that.
We left shortly after school, and Mom wanted to pay close attention to the weather because there was going to be rain, and she didn't want the roads to become icy. Everything was going pretty good until I used up all of my data. Oh my gosh, I swear that drains all the time. I get it back, and the next day it's gone. I've used up my limit. And I have to have a limit because one summer I went over and charged my parents like an extra $60. But I totally blame that incident on my grandparents' horrible internet. But I really do run out of data all the time. If someone knows how to get those unlimited data plans, please let me know....
The remainder of the drive I actually was productive, though. The rain did come furiously, and poor Mom did not have fun driving in that. She hated driving in the dark with the pouring rain, and then she said when cars would drive by it made it even harder to see. One time we almost hit a car head on because Mom got on the wrong side of the road when she turned, and another time Mom got mad about all of the cars out, so she cursed at them. Fun times! It made for a good writing scene, though, if nothing else.
And that's what I've had to learn. I've had to learn to let go of things. If I've learned one thing this year particularly, it's that. Not everything is going to play out like I planned . . . hoped . . . dreamed.
Sometimes that's a good thing, and I know it. Sometimes I can easily tell that God wrecked my plans for a better reason, and that reason is evident. But other times, not so much. It's not so easy to tell why my plan didn't go through or why God would allow something.
Let go and let God. That's something I've told a lot of people. I've always thought I was good at that, but now I'm seeing I need to do a lot of improvement there. Patience has always been my biggest struggle when it comes to the fruits of the Spirit. I want everything when I want it. Waiting on God is a big challenge for me. And I've been praying He'll help me there.
Letting go and letting God isn't always going to be the easiest task. It's about surrendering on a daily basis when problems arise, and hopes and dreams for each day fail. That will happen. You plan on having a great, easy day at school, when you get your assignment back and realize you failed it. You plan on having an awesome vacation, until you realize you scheduled something wrong. You hope to have a great holiday, when someone gets into a fight. And on and on and on.
Life is full of failed plans, unmet expectations, and disappointments.
It's pretty easy to let God have your life when everything is going nicely. The family's healthy, you've got all your basic needs and then some met, and you're happy where you are. Yeah, then it's easy to trust God.
But what about when your plans fail? When you had expectations, only to be filled with disappointment?
I had a nice time with my grandparents, but as I was talking to my grandma yet again about some different situations we're facing in our life, it once again brought to surface all my prayers I have yet to get answers to. It brought about my expectations for how I want things to be playing out and how, as of right now, most of those things are being played out the exact opposite of how I want them to. And it once again brought about disappointment, which usually happens when I allow my eyes to linger too long on problems.
I think it is immensely important to deal with your pain. If you're upset about something, the last thing I recommend doing is just shrugging it off and acting like it's something that will just go away. I also think it's immensely important not to let your emotions control you, either, so sometimes that does mean you have to train yourself to rejoice. I've had to learn to find a balance, because I've done both. I shrug off a lot of my pain because I just really don't want to look at it and the problems that cause me to feel pain. And that doesn't work because the problems and pain are still there.
Then there are the times I've looked really hard at my pain and let it consume me. I don't have the energy for anything, and I just feel hopeless. That's bad, too.
So how in the world do you find a balance with all of the hurt and disappointments in this life? You let go and let God. I think both are perfect solutions to both ends of the spectrum. Don't cover up your pain and pretend it isn't there--let it out, let it go. I promise that by keeping it inside and pretending it isn't there, you are NOT letting it go. You may think you are since you're not addressing it, but that in no way means it isn't there. It will be there until you address it. So address your pain and let it go. And then, once you've done that, let God have it. Don't let it kill you and steal your joy. Give it to God, again and again and again if you have to.
The simplest tip I have for letting God have your pain is prayer. Pray about it fifty million times if you have to, if that's what it takes to surrender to God. One time, there was a painful situation that wouldn't leave my mind. It broke my heart every time I thought about it, and I couldn't stop feeling upset about it. It was always on my mind. So I told myself, instead of wanting to lay down and sulk forever every time the situation comes to mind, pray about it. Take it to God and pray over it. I might've had to do that 60 times in one hour. But it helped, and it's a win-win, when you think about it! I win because praying and taking it to God will give me peace of mind, and the people affected by the situation win because I prayed that many times about it.
There are about five problems in my life that are recurring, and oftentimes if I don't address the discouragement I feel when thinking about them properly, they can very easily steal my joy. A lot of times I'll get a thought about one or witness another way those problems are still recurring, and I just feel another drop being dumped into my bucket of despair over those things. And maybe I'll mention it to God in prayer, but then I just plow through the day. I put it out of my mind and let my heart continue to get hard and apathetic about those things.
I tell myself I'm fine. I tell myself to quit worrying because that's not okay, but instead of sitting down and getting real about those worries with God, I just push them out and tell myself not to dwell on them. I think that's letting go, but it's not. As I mentioned earlier, all that does is allow my heart to get more apathetic, more hard. The worries eventually catch up with me until I have to cry, have to let it all out. That's what happens when you feign being pain-free.
To let God means to let go of your worries, and you're not doing that if you can't even address them. 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast your anxiety on God. It says to cast it on Him, not stop thinking about it and pretend it isn't there.
When's the last time you got real with God? I mean, really got real with Him? No lies, no traditional prayers, no praying how you think you should be praying . . . just real, true, intimate conversation with God? Why are you hiding from Him when He knows your heart anyway, better than anyone else on this planet (Psalm 139:1-6)? You can cast EVERYTHING on God because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). You can tell Him your disappointments, your unmet expectations, your unanswered prayers. Again and again if you have to.
I have a habit of pushing down my pain and pretending it isn't there, and then it all becomes so much that I do finally have a meltdown and do get totally real with God, but I wonder if maybe I took all of that pain to God right away I wouldn't end up having so many meltdowns. Don't wait until you get to that point. Go to Him now. Right now. God cares about your problems and the pain you are feeling, and He will listen.
That's what it means to let go and let God. Even when I don't understand why one of my prayers isn't answered yet, why my plans couldn't just work out, or why I feel so disappointed, I want to trust God. I want to cast all of that on Him the moment I feel it, not a week later when a week's worth of pain has built up that I've been hiding, and that finally comes to surface.
Like I said, I have these five main problems, and most of my sadness and disappointment I feel can be traced back to one of these five. Just today, I had to surrender all five of them to God yet again. It always feels so amazing, when I finally can just be real with God. I don't know why we always choose to go to God last. I do that all the time, and it's totally backwards. I mean, why would you NOT want to go to God first? When you have a conversation with someone about your deepest pain, they might interrupt you. God won't do that. They might get distracted, talk over you, or blow you off. God won't do that. They might make some snide comment about how your pain is ridiculous, you're obsessed with something, you're blowing your problems out of proportion, you shouldn't be upset about that, and more.
God will listen to you. He is not going to interrupt you. God won't blow you off. He's not going to tell you that your pain is ridiculous, and He's not going to yell at you that you're obsessed about something or that you're making too big of a deal about something, and He's not going to tell you that you shouldn't be sad. Why? Because He CARES for you. He cares about that thing everyone thinks you're obsessed with. He cares about the pain you're feeling that everyone says is ridiculous.
Prayer has an awesome way of putting things into perspective, and God will show you things through prayer. Maybe you'll realize, okay, I am blowing this out of proportion, or I am becoming obsessed about this. But that's the beauty and power of prayer. You can bring even your most ridiculous feelings to God--He can take them--and then He'll give you His peace and help you see your situations with His eyes.
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. I haven't even finished recapping the car ride. ;) Well, we did make it there alive, praise God. Hunter was hungry, so we stopped, and what do you think I ate?? Oh, just guess. I bet you'll get it wrong.
Gramps and Grams had their Christmas lights up, and their small town decorates nicely for Christmas. And I do say the town because none of the people do. One night we went looking around at Christmas lights, and let's just say there aren't many festive houses. Grandpa says his town is full of Scrooges, ha.
We ate soooooo much food, unhealthy food, too, of course. That's kind of what you do at Thanksgiving, but we always eat nice and healthy at Gramps and Grams'. Thank you for making my delicious and unhealthy Pinterest recipes I found, Grams! They were worth every calorie.
I love Gramps and Grams' house. It just feels so welcoming and warm. I will always cherish the special memories I have with them and being in their town. Their house is always gorgeous, and that's definitely true at Christmastime when they decorate. And they do decorate! Gramps said they didn't have any walls left... (:
The next day, we all went out to see their new ShopKo, which was quite nice. They also have a super cute consignment shop with cute clothes. Us girls went and checked that out, and then we ate at Godfather's, which is our tradition. Later that night we went to play Pokemon for Hunter. I think that is the dumbest game I've ever seen in my life, especially when we literally sat in one place for over twenty minutes while Hunter fought some Pokemon thing. But it gave me an excuse to go and see the town, so I went with him, Mom and Grams. We ate Thanksgiving together the next day, Gramps and I went for truck rides all over the entire town, which we love doing, we looked at Christmas lights later that night, and just had fun catching up. I also played basketball with Hunter and kicked his butt. ;) Those are the things I'm thankful for. I want to rejoice in what I have, let go of my pain the right way, and ultimately let God have it all.
I found 6 new Christian songs I couldn't stop listening to the entire time, one about God's fierce love, another about God fighting our battles, then one about Him being the God of miracles, another one about Jesus healing our scars and being there for us, one about not being afraid, and one about the power of God. Those were six reminders I desperately need: 1) God's love for me is very fierce, fiercer than anyone else's--I need to go to Him; 2) God is fighting my battles; I need to keep praying and trusting Him and remembering all the battles He's won for me already; 3) God is perfectly capable of working miracles, and He can take the dimmest situation and radiate His light through it; 4) Jesus can heal my deepest scars, disappointments, and brokenness; 5) I don't need to be afraid with God on my side; and 6) God is mighty, powerful, and darkness will never defeat Him.
So tonight, I'm letting go and letting Him have it all. Forever.